A Light in Dark Times: The New School for Social Research and Its University in Exile

A Light in Dark Times: The New School for Social Research and Its University in Exile

by Judith Friedlander


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The New School for Social Research opened in 1919 as an act of protest. Founded in the name of academic freedom, it quickly emerged as a pioneer in adult education—providing what its first president, Alvin Johnson, liked to call “the continuing education of the educated.” By the mid-1920s, the New School had become the place to go to hear leading figures lecture on politics and the arts and recent developments in new fields of inquiry, such as anthropology and psychoanalysis. Then in 1933, after Hitler rose to power, Johnson created the University in Exile within the New School. Welcoming nearly two hundred refugees, Johnson, together with these exiled scholars, defiantly maintained the great traditions of Europe’s imperiled universities.

Judith Friedlander reconstructs the history of the New School in the context of ongoing debates over academic freedom and the role of education in liberal democracies. Against the backdrop of World War I and the first red scare, the rise of fascism and McCarthyism, the student uprisings during the Vietnam War and the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe, Friedlander tells a dramatic story of intellectual, political, and financial struggle through illuminating sketches of internationally renowned scholars and artists. These include, among others, Charles A. Beard, John Dewey, José Clemente Orozco, Robert Heilbroner, Hannah Arendt, and Ágnes Heller. Featured prominently as well are New School students, trustees, and academic leaders. As the New School prepares to celebrate its one-hundredth anniversary, A Light in Dark Times offers a timely reflection on the legacy of this unique institution, which has boldly defended dissident intellectuals and artists in the United States and overseas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231180184
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 522,889
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Judith Friedlander served from 1993 to 2000 as dean of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research, where she held the Walter A. Eberstadt Chair of Anthropology. She also served as dean and professor at SUNY Purchase and Hunter College (CUNY), from which she retired in 2017. Her books include Being Indian in Hueyapan and Vilna on the Seine.

Table of Contents

Prologue: In the Archives
Part I: A School of Social Research
1. The First Founding Moment
2. Alvin Johnson and The New Republic
3. Columbia University
4. The Idea Takes Shape
5. The New School Opens
6. Alvin Johnson Takes Over
Part II: The Universities in Exile
7. The Founding of the German University in Exile
8. The University in Exile Opens
9. Ring the Alarm
10. Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes
Part III: The Middle Years
11. Alvin Johnson Retires
12. The Red Scare
13. The Orozco Mural
14. “The New School Really Isn’t News Any Longer”
15. “Save the School”
Part IV: “Between Past and Future”
16. The “New” New School
17. Three Doctoral Programs at Risk
Part V: Renewing the Legacy
18. Rebuilding the Graduate Faculty
19. Rekindling the Spirit
Epilogue: Extending the Legacy
Appendix A: Extended Notes and Commentary for Chapter 6
Appendix B: Extended Notes and Commentary for Chapter 7
Appendix C: Extended Notes and Commentary for Chapter 9
Appendix D: Extended Notes and Commentary for Chapter 18

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